« PreviousContinue »
HtH the long and dreary winter!
«pf> Oh the cold and cruel winter!
;? Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
If Froze the ice on lake and river;
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper
Fell the snow o'er all the landscape,
Fell the covering snow, and drifted
Through the forest, round the village.
Hardly from his buried wigwam
Could the hunter force a passage;
With his mittens and his snow-shoes
Vainly walked he through the forest,
Sought for bird or beast and found none,
Saw no track of deer er rabbit,
In the snow beheld no footprints,
In the ghastly, gleaming forest
Fell, and could not rise from weakness.
Perished there from cold and hunger.
Oh the famine and the fever!
Oh the wasting of the famine!
Oh the blasting of the fever!
Oh the wailing of the children!
Oh the anguish of the women!
All the earth was sick and famished;
Hungry was the air around them,
Hungry was the sky above them,
And the hungry stars in heaven
Like the eyes of wolves glared at them!
Into Hiawatha's wigwam
Came two other guests, as silent
As the ghosts were, and as gloomy;
Waited not to be invited,
Did not parley tit the doorway,
Sat there without word of welcome
In the seat of Laughing Water;
Looked with haggard eyes and hollow
At the face of Laughing Water.
And the foremost said: "Behold me!
I am Famine, Buckadawin!"
And the other said "Behold mel
I am Fever, Ahkosewin!"
And the lovely Minnehaha
Shuddered as they looked upon her,
Shuddered at the words they uttered,
Lay down on her bed in silence,
Hid her face, but made no answer;
Lay there trembling, freezing, burning
At the looks they cast upon her,
At the fearful words they uttered.
Forth into the empty forest
Rushed the maddened Hiawatha;
In his heart was deadly sorrow,
In his face a stony firmness.
On his brow the sweat of anguish
Started, but it froze and fell not.
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting
With his mighty bow of ash-tree,
With his quiver full of arrows,
With his mittens, Minjekahwun,
Into the vast and vacant forest
On his snow-shoes strode he forwaru.
"Gitche Manito, the mighty!"
Cried he with his face uplifted
In that bitter hour of anguish,
"Give your children food, O Father!
Give us food, or we must perish!
Give me food for Minnehaha,
For my dying Minnehaha!"
Through the far-resounding forest,
Through the forest vast and vacant
Rang that cry of desolation,
But there came no other answer
Than the echo of his crying,
Than the echo of the woodlands,
All day long roved Hiawatha
In that melancholy forest,
Th rough the shadow of whose thickets,
In the pleasant days of summer,
Of that ne'er forgotten summer,
He had brought his young wife homeward
From the laud of the Dacotahs;
When the birds sang in the thickets,
And the streamlets laughed and glistened,
And the air was full of fragrance,
And the loving Laughing Water
Said with voice that did not tremble,
1 will follow you, my husband!"'
In the wigwam with Nokomis,
With those gloomy guests that watched her,
With the Famine and the Fever,
She was lying, the beloved,
She the dying Minnehaha.
"Hark! " she said, "I hear a rushing,
Hear a roaring and a rushing,
Hear the Falls of Minnehaha
Calling to me from a distance!"
"No, my child! " said old Nokomis.
"'Tis the night-wind in the pine-trees!"
"Look!" she said, "I see my father
Standing lonely at his doorway,
Beckoning to me from his wigwam
In the land of the Dacotahs!"
"No. my child!" said old Nokomis.
"'Tis the smoke that waves and beckons!"
"Ah!" she said, "tho eyes of Pauguk
Glare upon me in the darkness,
I can feel his icy lingers
Clasping mine amid the darkness 1
And the desolate Hiawatha,
Far away amid the forest,
Miles away among the mountains,
Heard that sudden cry of anguish,
Heard the voice of Minnehaha
Calling to him in the darkness,
Over snow-fields waste and pathless,
Under snow-encumbered branches,
Homeward hurried Hiawatha,
Heard Nokomis moaning, wailing;
Would that I had perished for you,
Would that I were dead as you are!
And he rushed into the wigwam,
Saw the old Nokomis slowly
Rocking to and fro and moaning,
Saw his lovely Minnehaha
Lying dead and cold before him,
And his bunting heart within him
Uttered such a cry of anguish.
That the forest moaned and shuddered,
That the very stars in heaven
Shook and trembled with his anguish.
Then he sat down still and speechless, On the bed of Minnehaha. At the feet of Laughing Water, At those willing feet, that never More would lightly run to meet him, Never more would lightly follow.
With both hands his face he covered,
Seven long days and uight.s he sat there,
As if in a swoon he sat there,
Speechless, motionless, unconscious
Of the daylight or the darkness.
Then they buried Minnehaha;
In the snow a grave they made her,
In the forest deep and darksome,
Underneath the moaning hemlocks;
Clothed her in her richest garments,
Wrapped her in her robes of ermine,
Covered her with snow . like, ermine;
Thus they buried Minnehaha.
And at night a fire was lighted,
On her grave four times was kindled,
For her soul upon its journey
To the Islands of the Blessed.
From his doorway Hiawatha
Saw it burning in the forest,
Lighting up the gloomy hemlocks;
From his sleepless bed uprising,
From the bed of Minnehaha,
Stood and watched it at the doorway,
That it might not be extinguished,
Might not leave her in the darkness.
"Farewell!" said he. "Minnehaha;
Farewell. O my Laughing Water!
All my heart is buried with you.
All my thoughts go onward with you I
Come not back again to labor,
Come not back again to suffer,
Where the Famine and the Fever
Wear the heart and waste the body,
Soon my task will be completed,
Soon your footsteps I shall follow
To the Islands of the Blessed,
To the Kingdom of Ponemah.
To the Land of the Hereafter!"
Henry Wadswortii Longfellow.
fllE maid, and thereby hangs a tale, For such a maid no Whitsun-ale
Could ever yet produce: No grape that's kindly ripe could be So round, so plump, so soft as she, Nor half so full of juice.
Her feet beneath her petticoat, Like little mice, stole in and out,
As if they feared the light; But O, she dances such a way! No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight.
Her finger was so small, the ring
Would not stay on which they did bring,
It was too wide a peck;
And, to say truth,—for out it must.—
It looked like the great collar—just—
About our young colt's neck.
Her cheeks so rare a white was on,
No daisy makes comparison;
Who sees them is undone;
For streaks of red were mingled there,
Such as are on a Katherine pear,
The side that's next the sun.
Her lips were red; and one was thiu.
Compared to that was next her chin.
Some bee had stnug it newly;
But, Dick, her eyes so guard her face
I durst no more upon them gaze,
Than on the sun in July.
Her mouth so small, when she does speak,
Thou 'dst swear her teeth her words did break,
That they might passage get;
But she so handled still the matter,
They came as good as ours, or better,
And are not spent a whit.
Sir John Suckling.
Sees upon the garner floor
Wheat and corn in ample store,—
Powdery whiteness everywhere;
Sees a miller, short aud stout,
Whistling cheerfully about,
Making merry with his care.
Pleased, he listens to the whirr
Of the swift-revolving burr,
Deeming brief each busy hour;
Like a stream of finest snow,
Sifting to the bin below,
Fall the tiny Hakes of flour.
Once, with childhood's vague iutent,
Down some furtive way I went.
Through a broken floor to peer;
Saw the fearful water drift
In a current, dark and swift,
Flying from the augry weir.
Once, with timid steps and soft,
Stealthily I climbed aloft;.
Up and up the highest stair;
Iron cogs were rumbling rouud,—
Every vague and awful sound,
Mocked and mumbled at me there.
Wonder if those wheels remain,
And would frighten me again?
Wonder if the miller's dead?
Wonder if his ghost at night
Haunts the stairs, a phantom white?
Walks the loft with hollow tread?
Glides the river past the mill,
But the wheels are stark and still.
Worn and wasting, day by day;
So the stream of years will run
When my busy life is done.
So my task-house shall decay.
W. H. Venable.
jTjyjllE beauty of the country surpasses all the grandeur of the city. In the city there ir-^-s tire gardens cultivated with floral skill; but they are not half so lovely even as the fields, whose swelling grain waves, and nods, and trembles to the whisking wind.
;TTV; MTGHTY hand from an exhaustless urn
j*V*3 Pours forth the never-ending Flood of Years
'^ff? Amoug the Nations. How the rushing waves
Ji Bear all before them! On their foremost edge,
And there alone, is Life; the Present there
Tosses and foams and fills the air with roar
Of mingled noises. There are they who toil.
And they who strive, and they who feast, and they
Who hurry to and fro. The sturdy hind—
Woodman and delver with the spade—are there.
And busy artisan beside his bench,
And pallid student with his written roll.
A moment on the mounting billow seen—
The flood sweeps over them and they are gone.
There groups of revelers, whose brows are twined
With roses, ride the topmost swell awhile,
And as they raise their flowing cups to touch
The clinking brim to brim, are whirled beneath
The waves and disappear. I hear the jar
Of beaten drums, and thunders that break forth
From cannon, where the advancing billow send3
Up to the sight long files of armed men,
That hurry to the charge through flame and smoke.
The torrent bears them under, whelmed and hid,
Slayer and slain, in heaps of bloody foam.
Down go the steed and rider; the plumed chief
Sinks with his followers; the head that wears
The imperial diadem goes down beside
The felon's with cropped ear and branded cheek.
A funeral train the torrent sweeps away,
Bearers and bier and mourners. By the bed
Of one who dies men gather sorrowing,
And women weep aloud; the floods roll on;
The wail is stifled, and the sobbing group
Borne under. Hark to that shrill, sudden shout—
The cry of an applauding multitude
Swayed by some loud-tongued orator who wields
The living mass as if he were its soul!
The waters choke the shout and all is still.
Lo, next, a kneeling crowd, and one who spreads
The hands in prayer! the engulfing wave o'ertakes
And swallows them and him. A sculptor wields
The chisel, and the stricken marble grows
To beauty; at his easel, eager-eyed,
A painter stands, and sunshine at his touch
Gathers upon the canvas, and life glows;
A poet, as he paces to and fro,
Murmurs his sounding lines. Awhile they ride
The advancing billow, till its tossing crest
Strikes them and flings them under while their tasks
Are yet unfinished. See a mother smile
On her young babe that smiles to her again—
The torrent wrests it from her arms; she shrieks,
Aud weeps, and midst her tears is carried down.
A beam like that of moonlight turns the spray
To glistening pearls; two lovers, hand in hand.
Rise on the billowy swell and fondly look
Into each other's eyes. The rushing flood
Flings them apart; the youth goes down; the maid
With hands outstretched in vain, and streaming eyes.
Waits for the next high wave to follow him.
An aged man succeeds; his bending form
Sinks slowly; mingling with the sullen stream
Gleam the white locks and then are seen no more.
I,o, wider grows the stream; a sea-like flood
Saps earth's walled cities; massive palaces
Crumble before it; fortresses and towers
Dissolve in the swift waters; populous realms
Swept by the torrent, see their ancient tribes
Engulfed and lost, their very languages
Stifled and never to be uttered more.
I pause and turn my eyes, and, looking back,
Where that tumultuous flood lnts passed, I see
The silent Ocean of the Past, a waste
Of waters weltering over graves, its shores
Strewn with the wreck of fleets, where mast and hull
Drop away piecemeal; battlemented walls
Frown idly, green with moss, and temples stand
Unroofed, forsaken by the worshipers.
There lie memorial stones, whence time has gnawed
The graven legends, thrones of kings o'ertnrued,
The broken altars of forgotten gods,
Foundations of old cities and long streets
Where never fall of human feet is heard
Upon the desolate pavement. I behold
Dim glimmerings of lost jewels far within
The sleeping waters, diamonds, sardonyx.
Ruby and topaz, pearl and chrysolite,
Once glittering at the banquet on fair brows
That long ago were dust; aud all around,
Strewn on the waters of that silent sea.
Are withering bridal wreaths, aud glossy locks
Shorn from fair brows by loving hands, and scrolls
O'crwritten—haply with fond words of love
And vows of friendship—and fair pages flung
Fresh from the printer's engine. There they lie
A moment and then sink away from sight.
I look and the quick tears are in my eyes, For I behold, in every one of these, A blighted hope, a separate history Of human sorrow, telling of dear ties Suddenly broken, dreams of happiness Dissolved in air, aud happy days, too brief, That sorrowfully ended; and I think How painfully the poor heart must have beat In bosoms without number, as the blow Was struck that slew their hope or broke their peace.